Virginia Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases

Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Most workers need to show they suffered a specific workplace injury that occurred at a specific point in time in order to recover workers’ compensation in Virginia.

There is an exception for workers who suffer a disease that is due to work. Most occupational diseases occur after months or more normally years of exposure. Many workers may not even know they acquired the disease until decades after the exposure. The delay in seeking treatment for the disease can be problematic for many workers because employers and their insurance companies are likely to initially deny coverage due to the delay and the failure to point to a specific triggering event.

Joe Miller Esq., understands the Virginia occupational illness laws. He fights for workers who suffer these diseases which are often deadly, life-threating, or disabling. He works with doctors to determine the disease, the cause of the disease, and to show the disease was related to daily work performance. For Virginia worker’s compensation, the last day the employee was exposed is generally considered the formal date of workplace injury; however the time period for the running of the two-year deadline to file the claim doesn’t occur until the worker has been told by a health care provider that he has a work-related disease.

The Virginia Statutory Definition of Occupational Disease

Here is the state statutory definition of occupational disease. Some exceptions may apply. An experienced Virginial workers’ compensation attorney will know those exceptions.

“Occupational disease” means a disease arising out of and in the course of employment, but not an ordinary disease of life to which the general public is exposed outside of the employment.

A disease shall be deemed to arise out of the employment only if there is apparent to the rational mind, upon consideration of all the circumstances:

  • A direct causal connection between the conditions under which work is performed and the occupational disease;
  • It can be seen to have followed as a natural incident of the work as a result of the exposure occasioned by the nature of the employment;
  • It can be fairly traced to the employment as the proximate cause;
  • It is neither a disease to which an employee may have had substantial exposure outside of the employment, nor any condition of the neck, back or spinal column;
  • It is incidental to the character of the business and not independent of the relation of employer and employee; and
  • It had its origin in a risk connected with the employment and flowed from that source as a natural consequence, though it need not have been foreseen or expected before its contraction.

Hearing loss and the condition of carpal tunnel syndrome are not occupational diseases. Virginia considers them to be ordinary diseases; however there are circumstances under which one can recover in such cases.

Ordinary Diseases

Generally, a worker who gets an ordinary disease does not qualify for workers’ compensation. A worker who gets an occupational disease does qualify – so it’s crucial to be able to prove that disease is occupational and not ordinary. Some ordinary diseases—such as various infections— may qualify as occupational diseases if the following conditions are clearly met if the disease can be shown to have arisen due to employment and not due to outside causes and if one of the following exists:

  1. It follows as an incident of occupational disease as defined in this title; or
  2. It is an infectious or contagious disease contracted in the course of one’s employment in a hospital or sanitarium or laboratory or nursing home, or while otherwise engaged in the direct delivery of health care, or in the course of employment as emergency rescue personnel and those volunteer emergency rescue personnel. Essentially, this means people who normally provide some type of healthcare service such as nurses and ER staff and who acquire a disease may qualify for workers’ compensation.
  3. It is characteristic of the employment and was caused by conditions peculiar to such employment.

Common Types of Occupational Diseases

Many of the people who suffer an occupational disease suffer exposure to toxic chemicals. Some of the diseases associated with hazardous chemical exposure are:

  • Diseases of the lung. Bronchitis, industrial asthma, lung cancer, and interstitial fibrosis
  • Nerve diseases. Chronic encephalopathy and peripheral polyneuropathy.
  • Another disease. Tuberculosis, hepatitis, Lyme disease, possibly HIV, cancer of the bladder or liver, heart disease.

Mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer, is another common occupational work disease. Many workers got/get the disease due to exposure to asbestos. Many coal miners suffer from black lung disease.

Repetitive Motion Injuries and Emotional Stress Injuries

There are some occupational illnesses that are not due to exposure – rather they are due to repetitive stress. Workers who do a lot of computer work or repeat work such as assembly or machinist work can develop carpel tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. Repetitive stress injuries are also called repeated motion injuries. The most common type of repetitive stress injury affects the wrists. If detected in time; rest, rehab, and some medications can help. If not detected in time, repetitive stress injuries can become a lifelong disability. Virginia workers’ compensation law does not generally cover repetitive stress injuries – with the one exception of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Conditions that are related to emotional stress such as depression or indigestion generally do not qualify for workers’ compensation coverage in Virginia. If the stress is caused by a one-time event such as suffering or witnessing a workplace accident or death, then the worker has a better chance of recovering workers’ compensation benefits. That being said, it must be the kind of job where one would not be expected to be exposed to such an event. For instance, a police officer who witnesses a shooting would probably not be able to recover for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; however, a nurse or other type of worker might. An experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney such as Joe Miller can explain when emotional stress related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are covered.

Talk to a Virginia Occupational Disease Attorney Now

Virginia work injury lawyer Joe Miller understands workers’ compensation work injury law. He has been helping injured Virginia workers for over quarter of a century. He understands what workers need to prove to qualify for occupational disease benefits. For help now, call Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671 or fill out his online contact form.

Attorney’s Fees in North Carolina and Virginia Workers’ Compensation Cases

Posted on Friday, July 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

The legal fees in North Carolina work injury cases are regulated by state law. All legal fees must be approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission or Virginia Workers Compensation Commission. Most attorneys such as Joe Miller Esq. handle workers’ compensation cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the injured client may only owe minimal fees in the earlier stages of the case, unless and until the case is settled. When cases settle and an Order is entered, the employer or the insurance company is ordered to pay the injured worker a specific lump sum to the attorney.

Insofar as the earlier fees, there are no ‘up front’ or retainer fees on workers comp cases.

After the attorney has performed some work on the case, or in Virginia, after obtaining an Award for the client, whether by agreement or otherwise, the Commission will typically Award a small fee such as $500.00 or $1000.00 to the attorney. The money is not taken out of the client’s money all at once, but the Comp Carrier will typically agree to pay the attorney between $25.00 and $100.00 per week out of the claimant’s comp check, taking into account the amount of each week’s check.

In North Carolina, if the attorney wins some kind of significant Motion on behalf of the client, the Industrial Commission will typically Award the attorney every 4th Comp Check (25%). Most of the time in North Carolina cases, this does not occur. The only fees ultimately paid relate to settlement.

The advantages of hiring an experienced North Carolina or Virginia work injury lawyer are many. Attorney Joe Miller has helped thousands of injured workers get strong recoveries. He has been fighting for injured workers for over 25 years. His experience and tough advocacy helps clients demand all the benefits the law allows.

The benefits include more than just obtaining your weekly compensation checks. They include payment for all types of medical bills such as hospital bills, doctor visits, medical devices and medications. Injured workers may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation, travel expenses, and other benefits. Most importantly, a skilled lawyer fights to get the right classification of injuries for the workers. An experienced lawyer also works with your medical team when the employer tries to force the worker back to work too soon.

Common legal charges

The main legal expense is the overall contingency fee. There are also some other expenses that the lawyer may be allowed. The common legal fees are:

  • The Final Contingency Fee at Settlement. The main legal expense for the injured worker is the contingency fee. For example, the lawyer and client may sign an agreement that the attorney is entitled to twenty five or twenty percent of any recovery. If there is an overall full and final settlement of past and future comp payments plus a medical settlement, then they attorney gets one lump sum payment which is deducted from the settlement. North Carolina generally will authorize 25% of the recovery for legal fees. In Virginia, the amount is typically 20% of the recovery.

 

The 25% or 20% fee applies to even the most experienced lawyers. So, there is no real advantage in hiring a new or less skilled lawyer to get lower fees. Because the fees are capped at these amounts, injured workers should look to hire the experienced and highly skilled lawyers for their case.

 

The percentage does not apply to payment for past expenses such as medical bills. These are usually not part of the contingency fee and doctors and hospitals are normally paid directly by the employer without the lawyer getting a percentage of the medical bill; however, in Virginia, (not North Carolina), in a denied claim, your attorney may enter into a separate fee agreement with your medical providers to obtain a contingency fee once the providers are paid by the workers comp insurance company. That fee will not affect your fee agreement between you and your attorney.

 

The Smaller Early Attorney fee Awards in Virginia. In Virginia, if the attorney is able to secure an Award for the client, either through a hearing or Agreement, the Commission will typically Award the attorney a small fee, usually between $500 and $1000.00 It will usually only be larger if the Award results in the worker receiving a large lump sum of back pay owed. In that case, the Award may equal up to 20% of the back pay Awarded. If there is no back pay Award to draw from, the fee is not taken all at once, but satisfied through weekly payments deducted from the worker’s ongoing workers comp checks. The amount paid each week to the lawyer is adjusted based on what the worker can best afford.

 

Medical records. While the workers’ compensation lawyer is generally not paid a percentage of the medical bill, the attorney is entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of obtaining medical records and reports. In most workers compensation cases, the workers’ compensation lawyer will advance the funds to get the medical records and reports from the doctors who are treating the injured worker. The records are basically the office notes and other doctor or facility records and the charges are usually fairly small.

The larger fees may come into play if the doctor is asked to answer important questions in writing that are critical to the worker’s claim. The report will usually say that in the doctor’s reasonable medical opinion, the worker’s diagnosis and prognosis is whatever matches the true facts of the case.

 

  • Deposition costs. The North Carolina Industrial Commission recognizes that the time of the doctors is valuable – they should be spending their time helping people with injuries get better. For this reason, instead of appearing in court, the attorney for the employer and the lawyer for the injured worker will depose the doctor if necessary to determine the workers’ condition. Doctors’ depositions in North Carolina will usually take place within 60 days after the hearing. Doctors can charge up to several thousand dollars for their deposition. A qualified stenographer will also have a fee. Lawyers who advance the deposition costs are entitled to be reimbursed.

In Virginia, doctor’s depositions are usually not required, but if taken, need to occur before the hearing takes place. The same applies insofar as the attorney being reimbursed for advancing those costs.

 

In addition, oftentimes the defense lawyer may depose the Plaintiff in North Carolina (referred to as the Claimant in Virginia). If your attorney orders a copy of the transcript, there are costs associated with that as well.

Finally, depending on the facts of your case, there may be eyewitnesses or other witnesses whose testimony is critical to pursue or defend your claim. There are obviously costs for such transcripts as well.

 

  • Free consultations. Most work injury lawyers provide free consultations. Our firm has what we call our Free Seven-Step Elite Case Evaluation Process that only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. The first time you see or speak with our firm you will speak with our intake specialist on the phone.

 

The intake specialist will typically ask you precise questions about your specific situation, which questions constitute our Seven-Step Evaluation Process. Based on such items as the facts of the accident, your injuries, and other factors – the lawyer will be presented with your responses to these questions then decide whether you have a chance of success or if it is a case our firm is best suited to handle.

 

The consultation is also a chance for the injured employee to have his or her case reviewed by an experienced profession and it is absolutely free.

 

If both sides agree to pursue the workers’ compensation claim, then the lawyer will prepare a fee agreement to be signed by the lawyer and the client.

 

  • Mediation Costs. In North Carolina, there are costs involved if the case mediates, which are costs advanced by the attorney. In Virginia, this process is a free service provided by the Commission.

 

  • Proper representation. A skilled lawyer understands that if you reach an overall settlement of your case, often times through the mediation process, that you can’t come back later and ask for more money. This is why a good lawyer reviews all of your expenses before settlement and also reviews some of the problems that might arise after settlement such as new medical problems.

 

  • Court filing fees. Generally there is not a court filing fee to process your North Carolina worker’s compensation case. In personal injury actions, the injured person normally has to pay some funds upfront to get into court. Workers’ compensation cases are different. There are usually no or little fees to process a work injury claim.

North Carolina Industrial Commission and Virginia Workers Comp Commission rules on legal fees

The lawyer normally files the fee agreement with the Commission. It is the same in Virginia. If the fee is reasonable, the lawyer’s fees are approved. If the Commission finds that the fees are unreasonable, the reasons are given. The lawyer then can Appeal the decision to the Full Commission.

Some of the factors the Commission will review are the time spent on the case, the amount involved, the results achieved, whether the fee is contingent of fixes, what other lawyers normally charge, the experience level of the lawyer, and the overall nature of the lawyer’s services.

Contact an Strong Advocate for your North Carolina Worker’s or Virginia Compensation Case

Experience matters. Because lawyers take work injury cases on a contingency fee basis and because legal fees are usually capped, it makes good sense to hire an attorney such as Joe Miller who has a strong track record. If you were injured on the job, contact attorney Joe Miller for help at 888-667-8295. You can also complete the online form to schedule an appointment.

Calculating Interest Payments in Virginia Work Injury Cases

Posted on Monday, July 4th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

If payment of benefits is delayed due to Appeal, the injured worker may be eligible for interest.

An experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation attorney like Joe Miller Esq. understands how to arrive at the key figure. The Virginia Workers Comp Commission has also made this easier with an Interest Calculator in the event your case is appealed. The key items that need to be reviewed to calculate the interest due on compensation benefits are:

  • The Accident Date
  • The Date of the Opinion
  • Benefit Start Date
  • Benefit End Date
  • Compensation Rate
  • Date Paid
  • Weeks Due
  • Daily Interest Rate
  • Amount Due at Date of Opinion
  • Days Delayed
  • Interest Due
  • Total Compensation

Hurt at work? Get all the money you deserve.

.Sometimes employers delay making payment for invalid reasons, for the hope that you will give up, or for other reasons. Whatever the reason, if you are entitled to compensation – the employer should not be rewarded for any delay. Attorney Joe Miller has the experience you need to get interest for delay and to properly calculate your compensation benefits. Call Joe Miller to review your claim at 888-694-1671 or complete his online contact form.

Lump Sum Calculations for Compensation

Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Some workers are in a position, if they have reached maximum medical improvement, to consider a lump sum settlement. Lump sum settlements are very complicated. You only get one lump sum settlement which means once you accept a settlement you cannot go back and say that you missed something. An experienced Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer guides clients through this phase very carefully.

Some of the considerations in a lump sum settlement for just the compensation part of the claim from a math viewpoint are:

  • The date of the accident
  • The start date for compensation and benefits
  • The disability weeks awarded
  • The compensation rate
  • The date for the request of the lump sum
  • Disability weeks already accrued – through what date
  • The total number of lump sum weeks left
  • The lump sum amount
  • The discount compensation rate – the amount of compensation may be discounted because the worker gets it now instead of over a period of time
  • The discount lump sum

Don’t try this on your own. 

There are many other benefits that should be factored into an overall lump sum settlement such as vocational rehabilitation expenses and future medical expenses, ongoing prescription medications, potential future surgeries or other procedures, and any Award or Potential Award for Permanent Partial Impairment.

Get legal help before you settle your Virginia work injury claim.

You only get one chance to make a lump sum long-term settlement. To make sure it is done correctly, you need the help of an experienced Virginia work injury lawyer. Attorney Joe Miller has that experience. He has been helping injured workers get justice for over 25 years. He works to address every benefit and every dollar you deserve. He works to determine your long term needs. Call Joe Miller for an appointment today at 888-694-1671 . You can also complete his contact form online or make an appointment.

Multiple Period Compensation Calculations for Injured Workers in Virginia

Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

This multiple period calculator is similar to the Basic Calculator, but it allows the addition of additional benefit periods. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has an online calculator. To play safe, injured workers should review their compensation loss with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Multiple periods may apply, for example, if a worker tries to go back to work but discovers he/she still needs more time to recuperate or that the worker cannot do the job at all and will have to be retrained.

  • Simply enter your benefit information in each row. This is the information needed to do the basic calculation
  • Then repeat this for each period you were out of work, partially or totally,
  • The calculation will essentially be the sum total of all the individual losses.

Injured on the job? Get professional legal help now.

Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has helped thousands of clients get a strong recovery. He has been helping injured and ill workers in Virginia and North Carolina for over a quarter century. He works to properly categorize your injuries and to have you go back to work only when you are really ready. He fights for all the compensation you deserve. Please phone Joe Miller at the Work Injury Center for an appointment today at 888-694-1671 or fill out his contact form.

Links to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Law

Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Injured Workers can find a lot of useful information on the state Worker’s Compensation Site. One useful link is as follows: http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title65.2/

This link provides the various sections of the state workers’ compensation law. Your Virginia injured worker lawyer understands the law and what each section means for you. It is best to review your case with an experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation attorney.

The main sections of the law are listed below:

Chapter 1

Definitions and General Provisions

Chapter 2

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission

Chapter 3

Application and Effect of Title

Chapter 4

Occupational Diseases

Chapter 5

Compensation and Payment Thereof

Chapter 6

Notice of Accident; Filing Claims; Medical Attention and Examination

Chapter 7

Procedure in Connection with Awards

Chapter 8

Insurance and Self-Insurance

Chapter 9

Reports and Records

Chapter 10

Administrative Fund and Tax Therefor

Chapter 11

Second Injury Fund

Chapter 12

Uninsured Employer’s Fund

Chapter 13

Peer Review of Medical Costs

Speak with an experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation attorney today

Attorney Joe Miller has been helping workers injured in Virginia and North Carolina for over 25 years. He has helped thousands of clients get justice from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and your employer. Joe Miller understands the arguments employers and insurance companies make to try to deny or limit your benefits. He fights to get workers all the money they deserve. Phone lawyer Joe Miller today at 888-694-1671 to discuss your case or fill out his online contact form.

Virginia Allows for Reimbursement of Rehabilitation Expenses

Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

The Virginia Workers’ Commission recognizes the difficulties workers have in trying to get healthy enough to work again. One of those difficulties is advancing a lot of funds that they do not really have. Workers who keep accurate records should get reimbursement for the following vocational rehabilitation related expenses, if they are reasonable:

  • Mileage costs to vocational rehabilitation meetings
  • Obtaining or returning applications
  • Attending interviews
  • Costs incurred for telephone calls
  • Photocopying
  • Postage
  • Obtaining DMV and other records

“If the claimant does not have access to transportation, it is the responsibility of the employee to notify the vocational rehabilitation provider. The vocational rehabilitation provider should contact the carrier regarding the issue and make appropriate arrangements as directed/approved by the carrier to insure the employee’s attendance at meetings and interviews. This may include the carrier forwarding mileage payments in advance or arranging appropriate alternative transportation. The employee must provide information explaining why transportation is/is not available.”

Helping injured workers get all the benefits they deserve

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Joe Miller understands that every penny counts. He explains all the benefits that workers are allowed including what expenses can be reimbursed.  Attorney Miller advises clients on how to keep proper records so reimbursement will be approved. For help with any aspect of you Virginia work injury claim, call attorney Joe Miller at the Work Injury Center at 888-694-1671 or complete his contact form. He is ready to help you now.

What Happens If I Have Difficulty Speaking English?

Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

“The Commission will provide interpreters at its expense when requested for non-English speaking parties and witnesses in the evidentiary hearing setting. In lieu of a Commission-provided interpreter, parties independently may obtain and use the services of a qualified interpreter of their own choosing and at their own expense. Such interpreters need not be certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia, but must be competent to serve.

 

Parties and counsel who desire a Commission-appointed interpreter should notify the office of the Deputy Commissioner to whom the case is assigned of the need for same as soon as possible but in any case at least 30 days prior to the scheduled hearing date.”

 

Commission-provided interpreters are not witnesses – they just facilitate the process. If an interpreter is needed but wasn’t requested in time – a continuance to allow time to find an interpreter may be allowed.

Call Virginia Injured Worker’s Lawyer Joe Miller for help with your case

Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer Joe Miller is an experienced lawyer. He works to make sure clients understand the issues. This includes working to bring in interpreters when needed. Joe Miller fights to get full compensation for wage loss, medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and other expenses. He fights to make sure workers are not force to work before they are ready. Phone lawyer Joe Miller today at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email jmiller@joemillerinjurylaw.com to schedule an appointment.

Responsibilities of an Injured Employee

Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Injured employees in Virginia must meet several basic requirements in order to be eligible for benefits. An experienced Virginia workers’ compensation benefits will work to help employees comply with these requirements. The lawyer will answer your questions and work to maximize the amount of total benefits.

 

  1. Give notice to the employer as soon as possible.
  2. File a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years from
  • The date of the accident or
  • The date the doctor diagnoses an occupational disease.
  1. Select a doctor from a panel of three provided by the employer/carrier. Do not change doctors without employer/carrier permission or after a hearing by the Commission.
  2. Seek and accept employment if released to light duty and not under an Award, and if under an Award, cooperate with vocational rehabilitation.
  3. Do not refuse treatment with your doctors.

 

Injured at Work? Virginia Injured Worker’s Lawyer Joe Miller explains your rights and duties

Joe Miller understands all aspects of Virginia workers’ compensation law. He has been helping injured and ill workers get justice for over 25 years. He takes the hard cases. He anticipates many of the arguments defense lawyers make. Joe Miller fights to get clients all the benefits they rightfully deserve. Phone lawyer Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email jmiller@joemillerinjurylaw.com.

Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits in Virginia Work Injury Cases Explained

Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Employees who cannot return to their pre-injury employment but can work because their health has returned but must look for light duty work or alternative work may be entitled to vocational retraining.

Which you have to do depends on whether you are under an Open Award. If you are not under an Open Award, then you are required to seek employment within your restrictions on your own. This is called marketing your residual capacity.

If you are under an Open Award, then it is the employer and comp carrier’s burden to prove you are able to work if they wish to stop your benefits. This is often done through vocational rehabilitation.

“The two goals of vocational rehabilitation are to restore the employee to gainful employment, and to relieve the employer’s burden of future compensation. Rehabilitation providers should attempt to find employment within the employee’s medical restrictions consistent with the employee’s pre-injury position and salary level, and the provider should take into account such factors as distance, transportation costs, and actual anticipated earnings from the potential job, when considering such alternative employment.”

 

An experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney understands the process, how much retraining is normally authorized, and many of the practical issues such as all the little expenses association with training – fees, books, tuition, transportation, etc.

 

The fact is you must be on guard if you have been asked to participate in vocational rehabilitation. I urge you to DOWNLOAD MY BOOK to learn more about what the process is really all about.

 

Injured at Work? Contact an experienced work injury lawyer now.

Attorney Joe Miller has the experience and resources to professionally handle every aspect of your Virginia Worker’s compensation claim. He has written books on Virginia workers’ compensation law, representing thousands of clients, and obtained strong results for his clients. He has been helping Virginia workers for over 25 years. Call lawyer Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 for an appointment or complete his online contact form.

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